Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Design for innovation

Design for innovation

Design is not just about the way things look, it is also about the way they work. Design creates value and contributes to competitiveness, prosperity, and well-being in Europe. The European Commission aims to accelerate the take-up of design in industrial and innovation activities at European, national, and regional level.

What the Commission does:

The importance of design as an activity to bring new ideas to the market has been recognised in the Innovation Union, a flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Growth Strategy.

The Commission aims to:

  • increase the use of design for innovation and growth across Europe
  • raise awareness of how design-driven innovation increases efficiency in public services and drives business growth
  • create capacity and competencies to deliver these policies.

Design allows companies to anticipate users' expectations and create solutions they could have never thought of. It is about tapping into their emotion.

Design can lead to rethinking ideas, such as changing the shape of a product to better adapt it to customers' needs, rearranging the functionalities of a website to make it more user-friendly, revamping a production line to gain resource efficiency, or streamlining processes within an organisation to improve performance.

The Action Plan for Design-Driven Innovation (2013)

The Action Plan (92 kB) aims to accelerate the take-up of design in innovation policies and to create the capacity and competencies needed to implement these policies.

It promotes:

  • the understanding of design impact on innovation
  • the design-driven innovation in industry to strengthen competitiveness
  • design as a means for renewal in the public sector.

The Action Plan is built on the report 'Design for Growth and Prosperity' produced by the European Leadership Board Report in 2012.

Design for Europe

Design for Europe implements the Action Plan for Design-Driven Innovation (92 kB).

It provides:

  • a series of events to boost the adoption of design in innovation policies and support creation of capacity and competencies to deliver these policies
  • a web-based platform to support peer-learning, networking and partnerships.

Design for Europe has been co-financed by the European Commission since January 2014.

Design for Enterprises

In order to foster the uptake of design approaches and techniques by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), in 2016 the Commission launched the Design for Enterprises programme aimed at delivering training sessions (both on site and online) on various possible applications of design methodologies in their day-to-day business.

Courses are directed at SMEs and at business intermediaries supporting SMEs, such as the members of the Enterprise Europe Network. Courses are free of charge, and will be run across Europe in English and other European languages.

Business intermediaries supported throughout the programme will be asked to incorporate the material thereby developed in their regular service offer to businesses, so as to achieve a greater and long-lasting impact on the competitiveness of European SMEs.

Projects to support the uptake of design in policies

To improve the impact of innovation policies and speed up the uptake of design for innovation, in 2011 the Commission launched the 'the European Design Innovation Initiative', which consisted of 6 projects:

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